Do you recall how your interest in writing began?
From the time I can remember, I’d always been interested in reading. Anything and everything. It didn’t matter if it was the cereal box or milk carton in the morning, or the shampoo bottle in the bathroom. I had to read something, I craved it like some people crave chocolate. From my reading, I started writing my own little stories and writing in journals. I guess we called them diaries back then. I loved anything that had to do with writing and enjoyed my classes in school. I wanted to write so bad, that I choose technical writing as a career. It wasn’t until I retired as a technical writer that I started writing fiction.
Each book starts differently, from separate sparks. The ideas come from something I read in the newspaper, a dream, a magazine article, or even a short story my daughter wrote. As I get ideas, I put them in a notebook. From time to time I’ll peruse the notebook and see if another spark ignites. Writing is like breathing to me. I have to do it. My characters come to life with the words I breath into them as I write. My experiences, my observations, my thoughts are theirs as well.
I have so many stories inside of me and I can see these scenes vividly, but actually putting fingers to keyboard and writing it all down is overwhelming at times. I wish I could just hook a cable to my brain and download what I’m thinking into my computer.
What do you see as the influences on your writing?
I have a lot of favorite authors because I read a lot of different genres. Because I’m writing romantic suspense right now, I’ve been reading a lot of romantic suspense authors. My favorites are Lisa Gardner, Beverly Barton, Linda Howard and Sandra Brown. Lisa Gardner writes some absolutely suspenseful drama and can really draw the reader in. For horror, I enjoy reading anything by Stephen King because he has a way of using the reader’s imagination as part of his story. For science fiction, Robert Heinlein can’t be beat. His characters are well developed. For fantasy, there’s no one better than Piers Anthony. He writes a good story, period.
I write women’s fiction so my stories have strong female characters. I think that comes from having a strong mother figure. Aside from that, I think technical writing as really helped me in my writing fiction. It’s helped to tighten my writing from the start. Stephen King has influenced my writing quite a bit. As a kid, I would watch his movies on screen and later as an adult, I devoured all of his books. He has a way of making scenes come alive. I strive to achieve his way of combining the reader’s imagination with his words.
Do you write specifically for women readers? Do you think men read your books?
I don’t have a particular woman reader in mind while I write, but I do believe that the majority of my readers are women. Men have read my books as well, and enjoyed them from what they’ve told me. But, I prefer to write a good story and not worry about whether or not my readers are men or women.
What character traits do your characters have that show the reader they are strong?
To me, a strong woman has strength of character. She faces adversity and becomes a better person for it. Devastating losses can occur, and my strong woman character takes away lessons in life that help her along her way. My characters go through life changing events and grow into an even stronger character.
Katherine Marshall (in Not Without Anna) lost her husband and raised her daughter alone. When she loses her daughter, she discovers that she never really knew her daughter at all. She learns some horrific secrets that she takes as lessons learned and wants to give back to her community by teaching other parents so they may avoid her same outcome.
Are your novels character or plot driven?
You know, I’ve never really understood that question so I’m not sure if I can answer it properly. However, I believe that my novels are character driven. My focus of action in my books is on characters. What happens to them, what they are thinking, and what they are doing. The book’s plot moves forward around a character’s actions.
Are characters in that book modeled after the teenagers you know? Do teenagers like this book?
My children are all in their twenties. However, when my middle daughter was a teenager in high school, she wrote a short story about a teenage girl and her boyfriend. It inspired me to write Not Without Anna. I used the same girl, wrote the thrust of the story from her mother’s viewpoint and added additional characters to help tell the story. It made my daughter very proud. I dedicated Not Without Anna to her.
I used my knowledge of my own children when they were teenagers, their friends, and what I’ve read about teenagers in my research to come up with my characters. I didn’t write this book specifically for teenagers but I’ve had a few read it and say that they understood it. The book covers some heavy duty topics like teenage suicide and murder. For me, the bigger message is to the adults — the parents or grandparents of teenagers.
What lessons can be learned from your book?
Lessons from my books? Wow. Well, from Forever Until We Meet I guess the message is to learn to love the person within and be happy with yourself. In Not Without Anna there is a definite lesson to all parents of teenagers to not take anything for granted. Parents must realize that their children could be living a double life between school, friends, and home. In Trust In The Wind the lesson is to never give up and be open to change.
Do you wish you led the life of one of your characters?
They are a part of me, but do I want to live their “actual” life? No. Thank you, no. My characters suffer. They become better people for it, but they suffer. A lot.
What are your current projects?
I have a new book coming out in February 2006 called Trust In The Wind. TITW is about trusting in something that you can’t grasp. You can’t hold onto it but it’s there. A young unmarried mother and an older Tampa police officer end up teaching each other about trusting and loving again. Something neither of them thought they’d ever find.Powered by Sidelines